#1...First up, it was the 1970s. This was a woman in her mid 40s, a short slightly portly little woman who was just entering menopause and a mid-life crisis. She was a Farm Wife who had been transplanted to South Dakota as a teen-age bride from California. She spent her entire adult life living on an isolated South Dakota farm at the edge of a tiny typically German/Czech community.
When we first met, her hormones were raging (as they will for most of us at this age and physical stage). She was married to a man older than herself, a man who seemed cold and unemotional, blind and content in his own little world. This woman was obviously making an effort to cling to the woman she had been, to cling to her youth, to her memories. She was making an effort to justify her life and her decisions. When she spoke, you could hear regrets, and sadly not everyone around this woman was listening to her. Her pain escaped in random comments that drifted from her lips unheard.
What did I learn from this woman?
I learned that self-sacrifice is a good and upstanding thing only up to a certain point. I learned that when you've over-played it, or when the time for its natural cessation has come, you have to let it go. I learned that it's not okay to give so much of yourself to other people that you are no longer "yourself" anymore, you are an empty vessel. I learned that it's okay for women to create their own space, to take time away from daily demands to ground and re-center. It's okay to follow your own dreams and ambitions, and it's okay to have your own goals. I learned that you shouldn't live your life in such a way as to have great big regrets towards the end of it, because then it may all be too late.